It makes no sense to review these separately. Enjoy an excruciatingly long title instead! So, I was looking for something fun to round out a recent Jetpens order when this watercolor brush pen set caught my eye.
Being an impatient person, I like to practice the infuriating art of watercolors. I tell myself that it’s an exercise in improving my disposition; like meditation, but with more mess. Also, more set-up. Though I have both watercolor cakes (cheap, but my favorite) and tubes, as well as a whole mess of brushes and several sketchbooks of cold press paper, I rarely use them. Doing watercolors involves a ritualistic set up: get the two glasses of water, lay out the mixing trays and colors, get some newspaper, prepare drawings, get some cups for the brushes…look, I swear it’s a lot more of a pain to do than it is to describe. I still haven’t cleaned out my water cups from the last time I did a full watercolor set up. My tubes are shoved in a defunct purse somewhere in my room, and the watercolor cakes are under the bathroom sink, for reasons I can only hope existed and made sense at the time.
Enter the Akashiya Sai watercolor brushes.
I picked up the Autumn color set because, if these things operated like regular watercolor brushes, then really, all I needed were the primary colors (and black, which, for this, I used the Pentel standard brush pen—but that’s another review), and I could then make any color I wanted.
Poor recent college graduates can’t just go around buying pens all willy-nilly (in spite of what my monthly(more like twice monthly) JetPens orders might suggest). Gotta be crafty, gotta mix things up. Literally. In a palette. With a water brush pen.
While the Kuretake waterbrush pen is billed as “small” and “compact size,” I can tell you that it’s the size of a normal pen (actually a bit longer, and a bit thicker). I was worried we would be dealing with mini-pen sized dispensers of water; this is not the case. Cease your worrying, good citizen. The Akashiya mini palette is a nice sturdy plastic, easy to wash, and fits neatly in the front zipper pocket of my Nomadic PE-08 Easy Classification pencil case (but that is yet another review). After boggling vacantly at the whole assembly, I figured out what I can only assume is the correct system for mixing colors (I do not read Japanese, nor did this come with any instructions anyway).
Color with the brush directly into the palette, add water from the waterbrush as you fancy, mix with the brush, put brush to paper. It’s insanely, satisfyingly simple. Normally, mixing colors is a rigmarole production of brush to color, to water, then clean brush, get new color, try not to contaminate the source colors, mix, clean brush, get more color, so on. Here, the middleman of sending brush to color has been consolidated into a glorious lovechild of brush and color source. The brush IS the color source. Fantastic! You can color directly with the brush, mix color in the palette, do whatever you want. That is what convenience is about, my friend.
Now, I used the waterbrush the entire time for painting; I don’t know if that is the typical protocol of what is supposed to be done. The advantage of using the waterbrush is that it cleans itself out; no need for multiple cups of water for rinsing dirty brushes, providing water to clean ones, serving as an intermediate water state between dirty and clean… Just have some scrap paper handy to wipe the waterbrush out on until it’s clear again. Ta-da. It’s practically magic. The body is easy to squeeze if needed, simple to refill, and lasts for quite a while (I’m still on my first full fill).
The disadvantage of using the waterbrush: I often failed to get a fine tip effect. I have brushes I could have used for that. But I didn’t want to deal with cups of water. Perhaps with a lighter touch, I could get the same from the waterbrush. Another disadvantage: sometimes in painting, I was lifting color up due to the wateriness of the brush. But this seems more like a problem with watercolor in general than with this waterbrush.
Let me pull this all together: if you like watercolor, and especially if you want to be able to do watercolors on the go, you should get this set (brush pens, water brush, little palette, the whole thing, buddy, no skimping). The brushes are all great to work with; as you can see in this picture, the tips are synthetic individual brush strands (NOT felt tip. I am mostly against felt-tip); the waterbrush is the same. I would recommend you get a black pen as well. Everything you need (besides a sketchbook, of course) to paint with watercolors can fit in your pocket. I have had no problems with any spilling or leaking in carrying my set in one of my Nomadic pencil cases. For a little over $20, painting has become convenient enough that I can do it on a regular basis. That is a convenience well worth your money.
Now, before I set you loose with a page of painting examples I did and your requisite item links, I want to send a big thank you to JetPens. When I ordered this set, the yellow pen arrived having leaked into its cap. I contacted JetPens about it, and they sent me a replacement pen with no problems and no hassle. Their customer service is just…so pleasant, it’s hard to believe it’s categorized under the same umbrella as the typical nightmares masquerading as “customer service.” They are terrifically helpful people; if you ever have a problem with your order, just let them know. (I wish I had known this sooner, I could have sought their advice over a finicky Tachikawa manga fountain pen…but that’s another review.) Thanks JetPens! :D I will definitely be buying more of these pens when they run out. (and more pens…all the time…)